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Opinion: Negotiation Presentation Provided Solid Explanations

East Northport resident says that we're all in this together and we need ideas for solutions from everywhere.

Dear Editor, Northport Patch

On March 28, I attended the Northport-East Northport School Board budget meeting. At the beginning of the evening, . 

It was very informative, and I give Mr. Gross credit for giving that presentation with hundreds of teachers present!  I also wish to thank the President [Antoinette Blanck] and Board of Education for agreeing to allow the public to be informed of the content and progress of the negotiations.

There were several things that worried me about this meeting. First, as the presentation was discussed it was clear that the teachers were not happy about how negotiations were progressing and the concessions that they were being asked to make.  Some voiced their opinion that Mr. Gross presented a lopsided viewpoint of the negotiations as the representative for the Board’s side of the negotiations.  As a parent of children in our schools, what I took from the presentation was a pretty solid explanation on why school district payroll costs need to be kept in check, and why we can no longer afford pay raises of 5-8% per year.    

With the 2% tax cap looming in our future, these types of pay raises, not only for teachers, but for all district employees, will start us off with a deficit every year as the school budget process begins.  And if we are contractually required to pay these raises each year there will undoubtedly need to be cuts in other parts of the budget.  These budget cuts will likely be layoffs and program cuts that will result in a very negative impact on our children.  What is even more scary is what the LIPA tax grievance will do to our district when a settlement is reached.

I do hope that an agreement can be made that is fair to all; the teachers, the taxpayers and especially the students. Future mass layoffs and program cuts should be avoided at all costs because of the impact it will have on our students. If the unions in our district (not only the UTN but the other four or five bargaining units) have better solutions on how we can avoid layoffs and educational cuts without effecting their salaries and benefits, then I would definitely love to hear those ideas.

Another thing that disturbs me deeply is the lack of community involvement in the budget process.  I see the same 20-30 faces at every meeting.  At a recent PTA meeting about the budget, there were only five members present.   What’s up with that?  Is it because there is only a 2% tax increase proposed?  Is it because there is no planned cuts to programs or threats of layoffs?  Allow me to give my fellow community members the heads up…we are facing some dire financial implications due to the LIPA tax grievance.  NOW is the time to educate yourself on the budget process, learn what the $151 million proposed budget is being spent on and voice your opinions. 

Sheila Whitlow
East Northport

Polly April 05, 2011 at 10:28 PM
Noam: A Lexus? I wish. My minivan was purchased used. You are unfairly categorizing us. No Outrageous Parties, Pregnant in Heels, NYC Housewives. We are living hand to mouth here. And what's with Glenn Beck? Why do people keep bringing him up? I don't even know who he is. I just googled him and it sounds like he's a conservative hate-spitter. Sorry, you got it all wrong and it's almost funny how far to the wrong right you have gone.
Polly April 05, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Yeah, NPT MOM, and how about pay their union leader's salary themselves?? ha!
East N'ptr April 05, 2011 at 11:44 PM
@Noam, guess you didn't read beyond the first line of my comment. Not sure what cell phones at schools have to do with union members marching or wearing black t-shirts? But by the way, it's the teacher's decision to allow IPods and cell phone use in school. But what I don't get is the name-calling. I'm a "Glenn Beck acolyte" and "a joke" because I am voicing my disappointment in the actions of the UTN? Or is it because you (very wrongly) assume that I'm a rich Fox newsie and I want the middle class to give up their raises so I can get richer? Well, let me assure you, you couldn't be more wrong. I'd love to hear your views on the school budget. Can I assume that you think the status quo is perfectly fine? 5+% raises for everybody in the district, no matter how good or bad a job they do? Since you're not a teacher, I ask you, is this how it works in your industry?
NPT MOM April 05, 2011 at 11:48 PM
@Polly. I meant that very seriously. Noam very innocently provided absolute best principle in this discussion yet. Privatize the unions and be sure they foot all of their own bills. Sounds so simple but rest assured, when pro-union people read these comments they will laugh - laugh out loud... AT US. Because they know we are backed into a corner, can't budge and have to foot all their bills. Remember when Reagan told the Air Traffic Controllers not to come back? Plenty of eager teachers would be lined up and down in front of Wm Brosnan Bldg waiting to hand in their resumes and get to work if that principle were applied here.
enpt mom April 06, 2011 at 02:43 PM
I can't compare the Got Kindness wrist bands which probably cost what, $1? to the black shirts and buttons they wear. Most of their audience is students , so i consider that an inappropriate message they are sending - kind of putting the students in the middle of a dispute between taxpayers and teachers. The students have nothing to do with it, particularly the younger ones. Also, they are not bargaining against a for- profit corporation, like many other unions, they are bargaining against taxpayers. Big Difference. I don't appreciate having to explain their shirts and "Fair Settlement" signs to my 4th grader. And, I still don't think it was appropriate to wear their shirts for spirit week - what spirit - "we want to milk your parents, the taxpayers, for our raises??" GIve me a break.....

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